The NBA Free Agency period began at 12:01 last night and as expected the Rockets made a visit with Dwight Howard. This was the opportunity they have been waiting for. They have been preparing for the past two years to get their roster in shape to be able to absorb his possible salary with them. They are interested in signing Dwight Howard and pairing him with James Harden making them the co faces of their franchise. The ball is clearly in Howard’s court and he finally has say over his next destination. The big question is will he make up his mind about where he wants to play?
Housto has pulled out all the big guns connected to their franchise to woo Howard. According to Yahoo Sports:
Beyond Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander, general manager Daryl Morey, his front office staff, and coach Kevin McHale, the organization brought Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler to make cases to Howard about ownership’s long commitment to winning and its relationships with its iconic players.
“Hakeem didn’t say much, but what did he say was very impactful,” one source in the room told Yahoo! Sports. Olajuwon talked about the Rockets as a destination for championships and drew upon his own personal relationship with Howard, sources said.
Yao Ming, another former great Rockets center, connected into the meeting from China through Skype and talked to Howard about his experiences with Houston.
Rockets stars James Harden and Chandler Parsons pitched Howard about how they wanted him as a teammate, how the chemistry of the locker room would welcome him. Without bringing up the Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets could sell two things that the Lakers likely can’t: a chance for a close connection with the franchise’s star players; and an immediate chance to be a championship contender.
“His main focus was winning and we will give him the best opportunity to do that,” Parsons told Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears.
Howard was flanked with his agent, Dan Fegan, and Happy Walters, the CEO of Relativity Media and an agent in the company. What those close to Howard had been saying privately for months was clearly apparent through the probing that Howard did himself with Rockets officials: Winning was his most important priority in the process, and most of the evening was spent discussing how the Rockets had a history of constructing themselves around iconic centers in pursuit of championships.
McHale made it clear to Howard that he planned to build his system around him, and that, ultimately, he would hold Howard accountable every day in the franchise’s pursuit of a title. The Rockets had long believed that McHale, a Hall of Fame power forward, would be an immense asset in the recruitment of Howard. Howard had never had a head coach that could identify with him so well, who could literally look him in the eyes.
Clearly this is what Howard had been looking for since leaving Orlando. Being recruited, shown love, being made a fuss over, and being woo by a team he clearly wants to be on. Golden State, Dallas Atlanta are said to other teams he is interested in talking, with the Lakers looking to weight in with Howard.
When all is said and done while other teams will seem attractive to Howard it will come down to Houston and Los Angeles making the most noise to get his signature on a contract with the Houston Rockets being the ones that will ultimately signing the big man.